tech tips

A collection of technical tips, tricks and workflows I get asked about. 

Workflow and Saving K's Quotes

The Setup

Workflow is a new and extremely cool app on iOS that allows you to chain together apps and automate tasks. It's pretty hard to describe because what you can do with it is basically limited only by your imagination. Macstories has a very detailed review of it (as usual) that does a nice job covering it, and David Sparks has made a very nice video guide to walk you through it for a minimal charge. Here I'm going to focus on how I use it for capturing my daughter K's funny quotes as this is one of my most-used workflows.

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Old & Busted

Previous to getting Workflow, I had a Launch Center Pro action set up that would allow me to quickly enter the quote, and it would then call Drafts 4, make a new note with the quote, add the date to the bottom of the quote, and append the quote & date to an Evernote note that I was keeping as the final repository.

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New Hotness

Recently, I realized that I don't really use Evernote for anything else and since these were just plain text notes, there was no reason for me to store them in Evernote's proprietary format, so I decided to move to a new system.

The new system has a file in Dropbox and a note in Drafts as the final repositories of the quotes, and makes a small shift in the dates associated with the notes that I'll detail later. In one of the recent updates (perhaps when it went to version 4? I'm not sure), Drafts added the ability to recall the unique ID of any note. Because Drafts and Workflow play very nicely together, I can now recall the running quotes note and add the quotes to it, rather than having a new note for each quote.

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The Nitty Gritty

So, the meat of it is the workflow:

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It's a bit long, but fairly easy to work through. First I take the quote as input (from the Launch Center Pro action, remember) and save it as a variable. (I then do some date math to figure out how old my daughter is (in years) at the time she gives us her amusing tidbit. I used to just display the date, which meant I had to mentally do the math to figure out how old she was - this way it will just add her at the bottom of the note and save me the effort in future.) After that, I ask myself if there is any explanation text that needs to be added.

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If I don't need any explanation, I can just leave the text input field blank and hit Ok. The workflow counts the characters in the input to see if I entered anything and assembles the final quote. From there it just recalls the specific note in Drafts and appends the quote, then appends it to the file in Dropbox as well. This way I've got all these funny quotes saved both in my phone (and synced to my iPad), and in Dropbox where I can get to them on my iMac and share with family.

The Launch Center Pro action

The LCP action I have defined is simply:

workflow://run-workflow?name{{Kism}}&input=text&text=[prompt:K's Latest Gem?]

By setting this up on the main page of my LCP, I have fast access to it so I can make sure to document these as they happen.

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Final Thoughts

It is definitely a nerdy thing, but one that is helping me to make sure that I save these precious memories for future recall in multiple safe places.  And now that it's setup, the ease of use is tremendous.  Hopefully this writeup will have given you an idea on how to use Workflow to solve some of your own issues. You can grab the workflow here and modify for your own purposes.